Friday, September 26, 2008

What 700 Billion Means...

I did not want this blog to become a forum for political issues; I started it for my own enjoyment, and place for friends and family to check in on what I am doing and thinking on a weekly basis.

This $700 Billion bailout has completely overtaken my ability to keep mum on current affairs. I am sitting at home today, wallowing in my sinus-infection misery and cannot escape CNN and the commentary on the financial crisis, so I am going to have to share my pain with you.

I have been trying to figure out a way to grasp the value of such a huge sum of money. In terms of raw cash, it adds up to $10,000 for every American. Or should I say, FROM every American. It would provide medical care free of charge to everyone who currently cannot afford it and have $600 billion to spare. You could rebuild all of the dilapidated and antiquated schools across the entire nation. You could fix every road and bridge in need of repair. You could send 5 million students to Public Universities. You could buy and build 7 Million Cusato Cottages ( including buying the land to put them on to house the homeless and take people out of unsafe living conditions. I could go on for days...

Each of the ideas mentioned above would provide jobs, services, education and wellness care for a substantial number of Americans who are currently doing without the basic tenants of the American Dream. We have spent TRILLIONS on the Iraq War, the Drug War, and the War on Terror. Whatever happened to the War on Poverty? Who will this bailout help? Unless the plan is to keep people in their homes (and what about the people who have already been thrown into the street), it would surprise me if this bailout touched the lives of those that need the most help. They do not own stock, or a home, or a 401k plan. What is there for them to lose?

Today in America there is hunger, homelessness, ignorance, and a lack of quality health care. How are we supposed to compete in the global economic market when our basic needs are unmet and our infrastructure is crumbling from the bottom up? When the great organization, RAM (, has now made a whole program to provide free basic medical care to Americans (they used to focus on only "Third World" Nations, but guess what...), and food pantries are now serving food to the same people that used to be their core donors, something must change.

Friends, we MUST take our country back. The leadership we elected has failed us. We must make our voices heard and we must "Act Now" (to steal a quote from our Treasury Secretary). Our taxes are being spent to wage wars, put non-violent people in jail (which takes them out of the economy AND costs us over $25,000 per incarcerated person per year), bail out failing businesses (Airlines, Auto Industry, Financial Industry, ad infinitum), provide tax benefits to those that do not need them (can you say "BIG OIL"), and cutting the budget of our fail-safe programs and infrastructure while continuing to give tax benefits and exemptions to developers and corporations.

Start doing something today. You can contact your representation so easily in this modern age:

Your Representative can be found here:

Your Senator can be found here:

Your Governor can be found here:

Take a minute to voice your opinion and tell them what you want YOUR Country to be. Then take more action: get to know your candidates, and get out and vote. Make sure your friends vote, too.

Finally, find an organization that supports a LOCAL social cause that you believe in, something that moves you. If you cannot volunteer for them then make a donation that you can afford to help them help others! Taking the time to do this pays you back in ways you cannot begin to enumerate, and puts your time and money to positive solutions to the problems around us.

Thanks for "listening"...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Harbingers of Fall

Once again, the summer is coming to an end and one of my favorite plants is in bloom. The Crepe Myrtle is a Southern thing; I had not experienced them while I was living "Up North". I fell in love with them after moving to Richmond and experiencing their bright beauty in places from parking lot planters to manicured yards. They can handle the worst that the south can dish up: heat, wet, dry, sun, poor soil. Nothing seems to faze them and they are one of the last powerful bloomers you can find. They truly give you some serious "bang for the buck", with colors from white through pink to red and purple.

Our Crepe Myrtle is pink and has a prominent spot in the front yard. Oscar cut it back last year to give the Leyland Cypress behind it a little more light but it keeps fighting back and requires a good trim every few weeks. We had another out front but it was in the way of some landscaping plans so Oscar cut it down. From the stumps that were left little sprigs continue to try and grow all the time! THAT is one tenacious plant!

Fall is coming and I am grateful for this last burst of flowering beauty before the leaves turn, the air turns crisp and the cold creeps in...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Alien Pod Creatures!!!

I was playing in the weeds at the bottom-land at Dogs Days and noticed these little critters on the seed pods of one of the flowering plants in the field. It was interesting how these insects were all gathered together, so brightly colored and visible against the green of the pods. They MUST taste terrible or they would never make it with all of the bug-hungry birds down there!

Whew! First week of school over...

It was quite a crazy week: starting the school year off is always lots of fun and a big heap of work for those of us in educational technology. There are always new things added to our systems and thus new bugs to work out. This weekend we stayed in Goochland to rest up, enjoy the rains brought by Tropical Storm Hannah (I SWEAR I heard slurping noises from the water-starved trees in the yard), and get ready for our second week's start. Faith's team is still working on the logs at Dog Days, so it is probably was better I did not see the construction scene anyhow....

Along came a spider...

I have always had a fascination for the creatures that others think are, well, creepy. Oscar is thoroughly disturbed by many of my close-up photos of nature's crawlies, but I am always seeking out more of them, as they are the hardest-working members of the insect world; they usually are the sanitation workers, the exterminators and the undertakers, and I have a great amount of respect for that!

That is not to say that I welcome them inside, or that I want to handle them. I just leave them to their work in their world, and enjoy them from a "safe" distance. Most spiders, contrary to popular belief, cannot even break human skin with their little jaws (yes, that big itchy bite-welt you got at summer camp was probably NOT a spider bite, so quit whining about it all these years later and freaking out every time you see webs), and only two of that species (in the Mid-Atlantic) are venomous. This big (but harmless to humans) beauty was perched on the side of a tree out front of Dog Days, and she was happy to pose for me while I took lots of pictures of her. I am sure she has done her part to eradicate the less-desirable members of the insect world for me!

Another of my unusual friends, a reptile (the beloved rodent eater); This black snake was getting in a little sun-worshiping on the drive to the house. I love the black snakes because of their pugnacious character (one once shook its tail like a rattlesnake making the leaves rustle loudly and reared up at me to try and scare me off. I was impressed by its fearlessness and its use of another snake's defense tools, even if it looked nothing like the other snake and possessed none of the venom to back up its tough stance...). This one just ignored me and let me get close enough for a few good photos. Nothing was going to ruin its sun session, not even a large lumbering primate!

The last of the butterflies are getting food where they can as fall approaches. There are lots of milk thistle flowers, mums and daisies to go around at Dog Days, and I am glad to have them for a while longer. There have been fewer and fewer large butterflies in Richmond (this year seems to be the least ever at the Goochland house. Sigh.), so I am getting in as much enjoyment of the ones at Dog Days as I can! Some of them are looking a bit worn, but that only seems to make me love them more: Tough and beautiful!
The bottom has gone yellow with the new crop of wildflowers and tall stalks of ragweed (much maligned as an allergen, but highly praised if you love wild game birds such as pheasants and quail!), dotted with the purple spikes of milk thistle.

I found a wild cherry tree that had some very sour cherries on it (gave me quite a pucker!). I thought they were a spring fruit, but maybe that is only the sweet kind that I love to snack on, but they did add a nice red color to the mostly yellow of the late summer tableau.

My pie-making skills are shaky at best, so I left these to the birds and bears this year. Maybe next year...

It is amazing what you find if you travel enough, and some strange things greet you if you only keep your eyes open. I wonder who lost this classic style in the woods long ago?
So many forgotten items, remnants of other times and previous inhabitants litter the pathways I travel. They are constant reminders of the ubiquitous influence of humans upon this little planet. No matter how deep into the forest or how far afield I go, I still find these items...